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Preface.

The preceding dedication is sufficient to acquaint the public that these Sacramental Discourses are the genuine productions of that great man of God, Dr John Owen, who was for some time, in the last age, vice-chancellor of Oxford. They enter the world through the same channel as his Thirteen Sermons on various occasions, published four years since, — namely, they were at first taken in short-hand from the Doctor’s mouth, and, by the late Sir John Hartopp, baronet, Mrs Cooke’s pious grandfather, were transcribed into long-hand.

Mr Matthew Henry has this note in his annotations on 2 Kings ii., — “There are remains of great and good men, which, like Elijah’s mantle, ought to be gathered up, and preserved by the survivors, — their sayings, their writings, their examples; that as their works follow them in the reward of them, they may stay behind in the benefit of them.” Not that our faith is to stand in the wisdom of men; — the Bible alone is the standard of truth; and there we are bid to go by the footsteps of the flock, and to keep the paths of the righteous. There is a strange itch in the minds of men after novelties; and it is too common a case, that they who are for striking out something new in divinity, are ready to pour contempt on the valuable writings of those who are gone before them; and even the most learned, peaceable, and pious men, shall not escape their unrighteous censures. This is notorious in the conduct of those who embrace the new scheme.

If we inquire of the former age, we shall find there flourished in it some of the greatest and best of men; for whose printed works many acknowledge they have abundant cause to bless God to eternity. Among these, the writings of Dr Owen shine with a peculiar lustre, in the judgment of judicious Christians; and I am persuaded they who peruse them with the spirit of love and of a sound mind, will be as far from asserting that, in his manner of maintaining the doctrine of faith, his right arm appeared to be weakened, as from saying that his right eye was darkened, and unable to discern the object of it.

As to the following Discourses, which the Doctor calls “Familiar Exercises,” they are now printed in hopes they will be made useful, through the divine blessing, to assist the meditations of Christians of all denominations in their approaches to the Lord’s table, seeing they are so well adapted to answer that sacred purpose.

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